Module 6 Blog

     The technological & pedagogical knowledge that I have learned throughout this course has been very valuable and has allowed me to develop further as a future online course facilitator.  This knowledge gain consists of instructional course design (keeping time for maintenance and improvement/ updates in mind), course management strategies (ie: call log), Andragogy & adult learning theories (independence), recognizing LMS imitations, creating quality rich media tutorials, online teaching & learning strategies & models (Community of Inquiry), blended & flipped learning limitations & strengths, and last, but not least, properly developing a quality online course that is composed of appropriate (s) Structure, (2) Content, (3) Processes, and (4) Outcomes.

   Taking this course while enrolled in Ed Tech 512 has definitely been conducive to earning a certificate in Online Teaching, as I have been able to learn & study this subject even more than I would by taking only a single course.  In addition, as an online adult learner, myself, I find that many of the concepts that were studied applied to my own learning, and I believe that can be a positive factor; understanding what your own students are going through while completing their online courses.

   In the near future, I will definitely share my Ed Tech artifacts with my coworkers and friends. I would like to continue to receive constructive feedback even after I have earned my Master of Educational Technology degree, and I may consider implementing my course artifacts as a start to my online teaching career.

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Categories 522

Moodle Lesson Creation

As I was creating my online Moodle lesson for EdTEch 522, I was near the end of completing an online Math ISAT Prep course for EdTEch 512. I know that I didn’t want them to be similar, not only because you cannot use course assignments for other courses, but because I thought to myself, “Think of something new…”. So, I thought and devised a plan that would allow adult learners to learn about Math. Yet, they wouldn’t simply be completing arithmetic or answering questions, either.

In Employment in America, an adult Mathematics Webquest, young adults will research what Math skills they would need to have in order to obtain a more satisfactory and financially stable job.  As they complete the Webquest, they will learn about a variety of occupations, what Math skills are involved with each, including daily life Math skills, and eventually, they will have gained a more thorough understanding of Mathematics, and hopefully, less fear of the subject itself. In addition, the course provides freedom of choice, the ability to work at their own pace or collaborate with their peers, share their experiences with their peers and provide & receive constructive feedback.  In conclusion, for Module 5, these adult learners will complete their final project, which will consist of a presentation or video that displays their preferred occupation involving Math, what skills they need to learn to get that desirable job and more.

Andragogy or adult learning theory, pertains to adult students that wish to be responsible for their own learning, provided constructive feedback or teacher facilitation, rather than dictation, and provided with freedom of choice. I believe I have applied these elements within my course design, along with an approach of Cognitivism.  This lesson allows the adult learner to recall prior knowledge, learn more about Math, and then build upon and update their way of thinking about Math.  Social presence is provided through the peer discussion forums, whereas instructor presence is provided through the course Q&A forum, the course welcome message and the instructor block, along with email, phone & available office hours.

Overall, the most difficult part of creating this lesson involved using the Moodle platform, because I am unfamiliar with it for anything other than completing EdTech course assignments.  However, I have always “Googled” any questions that I have had and solved the issue as soon as possible. If I couldn’t find the answer, I would then ask my peers. I am my own worst critic, and although I have received high marks from my peers, along with constructive criticism concerning a few small changes, I still think of changes that I could implement or ways to improve upon my course.  I think that as an online instructor, I will be very meticulous in tracking time spent answering student questions through a “Call Log”, finding ways to improve material, links and resources and last, sorting out the best and fastest way to implement any changes that are needed or suggested by the students. I feel that this project really made me think about those people out there that really despise Math and refuse to learn it, because they feel they are not smart enough. I want those people to know they are wrong and anyone can sit down, concentrate, and learn new information. I hope that 2 particular videos that I included in my lesson persuade these students to think that it is possible, so they broaden their horizons, and ultimately foster a better way of life for their families.

Week 6 Reflection

In week 6 of EdTech 522, there were a multitude of readings to be read, discussing best practices for online instruction, including such topics as creating and maintaining a cognitive, social & teaching presence.  Maintaining these attributes throughout an online course helps students to first, “construct knowledge together as they engage in interactions”, and second, “build interpersonal relationships that impact learning activities” (Stavredes, 2011).  In addition, as an online instructor, it is important to build a teacher presence in order to facilitate the cognitive and social construction, while learners achieve the course objectives.

I found that these three attributes come up within each EdTech course and I believe that these are the three main characteristics of my own learning that I have experienced during these courses.  For example, at the beginning of each course, the instructor has each student introduce themselves to each other through a discussion forum or even hold a short video conference.  This helps students create professional contacts and even teams, that support each other throughout the course.  During these first introductory forums, there are even questions and discussions brought up by peers that meander off the path, and provide helpful information to the rest of the class, as they share their experiences in educational technology and questions or “needs improvement” from previous courses.  This first, yet simple, discussion causes cognitive and social presence to begin and continues, as long as the instructor facilitates the discussions, requesting that each student respond to at least 2 other peer’s points.

Of all the differing goals & objectives of online courses and ways that learners, young and old, learn best and how that can be accomplished, I believe that the most important thing for an online instructor to recall, should be to establish and maintain a cognitive, social & teacher Presence.  Without these three attributes, I believe that online courses would not accomplish their goals and students would not partake in these courses.

References

Stavredes, T. (2011). Effective online teaching: Foundations and strategies for student success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 

Week 1 Reflection

-What is involved in designing an effective online course?

     The first step in designing an effective online course is to understand the learners. Online learners come from a variety of cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, are older than traditional students and the majority of them are female.  Additionally, their secondary characteristics, including jobs, finances, education, and marital and parental status, can affect their willingness to take an online course and remain enrolled.  Prior to the course, it is important to survey online learners, in order to better understand how to design & implement the online course. In Chapter 1, Stavredes discusses various types of learners, that are either Teacher or Learner-Centered, hold a high or low degree of Uncertainty Avoidance, are Individualists or Collectivists, and are from either Masculine or Feminine societies.  In Exhibit 1.2 Impact of Cultural Differences on Learning, Stavrades provides each dimension, cultural differences, associated countries and teaching & learning characteristics of each, which can assist the online instructor in completion of this first step.

     Secondly, it is important to understand how the adult learners learn.  There are multiple theories or strategies that apply to adult learning:

  • Andragogy is a theory that differs from Pedagogy, in theorizing how adults learn, as the adult learner sets his or her own goals and decides how to achieve them.  This concept is also referred to as being Learner-Centered, because the learner is taking responsibility for his or her own education.   
  • Knowles and colleagues developed a list of key attributes of adult learners, that can assist the online instructor’s understanding of the class’s learning style, including Need to Know or why, Self-Concept or how, Experience or sharing of ideas, Readiness to Learn or problem solving, Orientation to Learning or real-life and Motivation to Learn or incentives.  
  • In Exhibit 2.1 Grow’s Staged Self-Directed Learning (SSDL) model, Grow classifies learners as either a Dependent Learner or guided, Interested Learner or basic understanding, Involved Learner or goal oriented or a Self-Directed Learner or self evaluator, and lists strategies for the online instructor to provide effective teaching strategies for each.
  • In Exhibit 2.2 Grasha-Riechmann Student Learning Style Scales, various styles and learner preferences are listed, which can also support the appropriate design and implementation of an online learning environment. These include Independent or Dependent, Competitive or Collaborative, Avoidant or Participant.  

     “These assumptions should be viewed relative to your learners’ individual levels of self-directedness, motivation and life experience in order to ensure that your instructional approach functions positively in the given learning situation” (Merriam, 2001).

     Furthermore, these adult learners most likely hold prior knowledge and relevant experiences, which can be passed onto their peers through ice-breakers, discussion forums, blogs and group projects, to name a few, which will help to improve the course and allow students to create professional networks.  In addition, online courses for adults must provide flexibility, a variety of activities and problems to be solved, time management and organizational tools, scaffolding strategies with 5-7 modules per course, frequent feedback, formative evaluations, clear directions and expectations, strict and realistic deadlines, proper student support services and students must understand why or how it relates to real-life or career advancement, to name a few.

– Discuss challenges that affect learners’ persistence in online course and relate these challenges to your own online teaching or learning experiences.

     However, once the online course is designed and implemented by the instructor, students may find themselves feeling overwhelmed, find that they do not have the proper support from the institution or perhaps feel that they are not part of the course.  Institutions desire high retention rates, while instructors should strive for high rates of persistence.  Retention relates to the amount of students which remain enrolled in the online course, while Persistence refers to the amount of students that return each semester to further their education.  Low expectations, little feedback, unclear directions and a lack of communication between peers and instructors are a few issues that can cause adult learners to dropout.  In order to raise these rates, online instructors must interact with their students, providing frequent feedback and forums for peer discussions, for example.  

     In addition, Exhibit 3.1 Comparison of Persistence Models That Address Traditional Students, displays differences among retention models developed by Spady, Tinto and Pascarella.  The models include variables relating to Academic Potential, Grade Performance, Normative Congruence or the student’s expectations vs. the institutions, along with Intellectual Development and Friendship Support.  

     Furthermore, in Exhibit 3.2 Comparison of Persistence Models That Address Non-traditional, Distance Learning Students, Bean &  Metzner and Rovai display variables relating to an online learner’s persistence or “fit” into the program, providing the institution or instructor with information that can be used in the design and continual assessment and update of online courses for adults.  These variables are similar to those used in course design and adult learner characteristics.  

     I am currently working on designing an online Math course for EdTech 522 and can honestly say that there is so much to learn about course design, implementation and assessment, that I am feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I do not want to design a course that may prove ineffective or unattractive to learners, and would rather read and reread numerous articles and text, taking meticulous notes, in order to design an effective and well respected online course.

     Since January 2016, when I began taking the EdTech courses, the LMS was new to me. Otherwise, I have used Blackboard or completed military-related distance learning, without an available instructor or helpful advice or discussions with peers.  Additionally, it included difficult problem-based assessments which constantly caused my computer to lock up or the course to start over.  It was very frustrating!  However, I have enjoyed the EdTech program thus far and plan to continue.  While reading the attributes, characteristics and variables of online learners, I thought about how they applied to my learning and what I would do to ensure that in the future, my online learners do not feel, confused, frustrated, lost or alone in their journey to further their education.  

References

Pappas, C. (2014). 11 tips to engage and inspire adult learners. eLearning Industry.

Stavredes, T. (2011). Effective online teaching: Foundations and strategies for student success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

EdTech 542 Reflection

I’m not certain exactly what I expected to learn in this course, after recently starting the program again after 8 years. The last 3 courses I took in Spring 2016, focused on What EdTech is about and using technology, ie: using various software and Weebly to create lessons & pages, etc. I guess I expected this class to be similar to those, but after completing this course, I now know much more than I thought I did about lesson building and how important it is to allow students choice and voice.

In addition, I believe that I have learned why it is so important to teach students about higher thinking skills, rather than memorization. Deep down, I have always known that, but I haven’t gotten the chance to apply it yet, being that I just retired from the Army last year, after a long 18 years of rucksack fun. I hope that within a year or two, I will be able to put my knowledge to work and reach out to those students who need extra help or those looking for a challenge, and honestly, everyone in between.

Post-project Reflection

The culminating event is over, the project presentations have been presented, groups and peers have been evaluated, reflection journals are in. Is the PBL experience really over? Absolutely not. One of the most powerful forms of assessment and project evaluation is the post-project reflection. Use the resources from this week to assist you as you think about how you intend to debrief your PBL experience (Dr. Baek, EdTech 542).

Assessing a project based lesson is very important, because if that does not occur, the same project would become mundane to the teacher using it and therefore expired and uninteresting to the subsequent students completing it. Additionally, times change! Therefore, documents, links, ideas and resources need to be updated, along with rubrics,m standards and Formative & Summative assessments.

To really assess the project, I believe that peer educators should take part in the lesson’s entry event and be provided background.  Then, they should periodically view the project during the process, taking notes, to better help the teacher understand what they really thought and observed. In addition, they should be brutally honest, where constructive criticism should be taken as such and used to improve upon the lesson, time after time.

 

From Teacher to Facilitator

Within a project based lesson, roles for the teacher and learner differ than a typical one-hour lesson in Mathematics, for example.  I believe that my role as a teacher would change from teacher to facilitator, which would imply that the student’s role would also change, from passive learner to a student taking responsibility of what he or she wants to learn and how they learn it.

Effective facilitation provides the best benefit for implementing a project based lesson, because the facilitator must ensure that students have the skills they need to complete their tasks, understand the instructions and timeline, stay on task and understand what their final project and formative assessments are graded upon, etc.  An effective facilitator understands what is expected of him or her and constantly checks in with the student groups, observing, asking questions and offering assistance.

I believe that if the facilitator and the students both take responsibility for their roles, the students will develop the skills and competencies needed to become a successful individual, and the teacher will develop his or her skills as a facilitator, providing effective project based lessons to students and advice to his or her peers.

Scaffolding in PBL

According to John Larmer, editor in chief of BIE, scaffolding was defined as “a process in which teachers model or demonstrate the problem-solving process, then step back and offer support as needed”(2016).  This is essentially a differentiated learning process where teachers provide the students with “lessons, modeling, coaching, workshops, tools, or any other resources they might need” (2016).

In addition, McKenzie states that, There are 8 characteristics of scaffolding, including, (1) Clear directions (2) Clarity of purpose (3) Students staying on task (4) Assessments clarify expectations (5) Students pointed to good sources (6) Reduces uncertainty, surprise & disappointment (7) Efficient and (8) Creates momentum (1999).

Scaffolding in PBL is essential, because it allows the students to first learn about the problem/project or why it matters, and create questions like, “What can we do to fix it and how?”, supplemented with teacher insight or materials, and finally, leading to original and creative solution(s) by the students.

I plan to address scaffolding throughout my PBL, by:

  • ensuring students understand appropriate core skills & standards prior to the PBL, ensuring they are prepared
  • providing clear guidelines & an entry event that sparks motivation among the students
  • establishing a realistic timeline with the class & “checkpoints”
  • discussing & providing rubrics with the class, allowing for feedback and/or alterations
  • discussing & providing access to project examples, concept maps, applicable websites, writing, presentation & organization tools
  • regularly reviewing group work and individual student writing journals, providing constructive criticism
  • allowing feedback from each group to address questions or issues
  • providing a safe environment where students can collaborate w/o fear of reprisal or embarrassment

References

Effective Assessment

According to the resources provided this week, effective Project Based Learning assessments are considered “progressive,  rigorous, and accountable”.   Meaning that there is no final test for a few small lessons within a project based lesson, where knowledge gained by the student is lost after an exam, but where each activity builds upon the previous, leading to more in-depth knowledge that will not easily be forgotten.  Additionally, as an educator, you should ask yourself, “How will I know?”.  How will I know the students understand and can apply what they have learned to real life scenarios and what can I do to make that happen.

During my project based lesson, I will be focusing on the How-To of Community Garden Plots with 3rd grade Math students, resulting in professional presentations provided by each group to the class and also a new school garden, that is created, managed and shared with the community.  This lesson is progressive in nature, where each activity builds upon the previous.  It is rigorous in nature, including cross curriculum subjects like Math, Science, ELA, ISTE & 21st Century life skills.  Also, students will follow a specific timeline for the lesson, completing activities and assessments throughout, which are relevant to real-life scenarios.

References:

  • Markham, thom. (2011). Education trends: Strategies for embedding project-based learning into STEM education. San Rafael, CA: Edutopia.
  • School of the Future. (2011). Schools that work: What is authentic assesment? San Rafael, CA: Edutopia.
  • 4teachers. (2009). Project based learning: Involving students in checklist creation. University of Kansas: ALTEC.
  • PBL in the Elementary Grades: Developing a Balanced Assessment Plan pp. 47-52; Using Formative Assessment & Setting Checkpoints pp. 104-107; Rubrics for Assessing Presentations & Collaboration pp. 132-135.
  • PBL Starter Kit: Summative Assessment: Culminating Projects pp. 46-49; Formative Assessment pp. 59-60; Rubrics pp. 60-62; Collaboration & Presentation Rubrics pp. 124-125

Driving Question: Reflection

This week involved much reading, reviewing, updating and planning of my PBL lesson: Garden Plots.  This week’s assignment was to create a “Driving Question” and 10 sub questions, along with describing in the forum, characteristics of a quality driving question and explaining how my driving question meets those criteria. Additionally, I broke down each sub question to further explain how an entire unit, using more than Math core standards, can be created around my driving question.

My driving question is: 

How many fruits & vegetables can be grown in a community garden plot?

My 10 sub questions & further details: 

  1. What types of fruits & vegetables do we eat the most?: Students decide which plants they consume regularly, based on the area they live in. This could vary, depending on the area’s culture, type of foods eaten and access to fruits & vegetables.
  2. How are seeds obtained?: Students will research the process of growing plants to obtain them for a garden, along with the characteristics of each plant’s seeds and its identification. (not including simply purchasing at the store….)
  3. How long does it take to grow these plants?: Students will research plant germination to harvest time, based on each type of plant and its characteristics and where and how they’re planted.
  4. How and when do we harvest these plants?: Students will determine when they will harvest their fruits & vegetables and how to do so, not affecting other growing plants, and how to keep their fruits & vegetables from rotting or going to waste, ie: canning, farmer’s markets, donating.
  5. What nutrients do these plants require to grow?: Students will research required growing conditions and nutrients needed, applying those nutrients to their garden, in the form of fertilizer or UAV, etc.This could also branch off to conduct experiments or hypotheses, comparing different growing conditions for similar plants to determine what works best and why…
  6. How much area does each plant need to grow?: Students will research the area each type of plant needs to grow, without affecting other plants in the garden.
  7. What is needed to grow these plants in a community garden plot?: Students will research and determine the basis of a community garden plot and what is needed to create and manage one.
  8. Which of these plants can we grow in a community garden plot?: Based on the above answered sub questions, students will research, collaborate and determine the contents of their garden plot.
  9. What measurement tools and formulas will you use to determine the overall perimeter, area and boundaries for each family’s plot?: Students will apply mathematical formulas for perimeter and  area to later, equally divide their garden plot, based on sub-Q #10.
  10. With the community requiring at least 12 separate plots for 12 families, how much area does each family require if they grow 2 of each regularly eaten plants that we identified in Q5?: Students will apply their knowledge thus far to find the answer to this question, and finally, present their findings to the class in a professional manner.